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Questions tagged [word-usage]

This tag is for questions which a dictionary cannot answer about the meaning or correctness of a word in a sentence. Give as much context as possible.

22
votes
2answers
1k views

Articles: When do I use “a”, “the”, or “__”?

How do I know whether to use the definite (the) or indefinite (a, an) article, and when to omit it altogether?
11
votes
7answers
47k views

Shouldn't “five minute walk” be “five minutes walk” in this sentence?

Recently, while skimming through an article I came across a sentence which is as follows. The five minute walk will connect you with life. My rationale says it should have been "five minutes" &...
20
votes
5answers
86k views

Difference between “in time” and “on time”

I have an appointment at 8 and I arrive there at 7:55, is it "on time" or "in time"? What about "the nick of time"?
24
votes
3answers
174k views

“Important to me” or “Important for me”

I cannot easily figure out which one is more appropriate to use: It's important to me. It's important for me. Are they the same? If not, what's the difference?
71
votes
3answers
232k views

Does “a couple” always mean two?

Today I said some event was a couple of weeks away. A native speaker from Australia corrected me and said, no it's at least three weeks away. What followed was a discussion as to whether a couple ...
94
votes
7answers
122k views

Is there any difference between being ill and sick?

I can say I'm ill or I'm sick. But what is the difference between the usage of these terms? I've heard that one can use sick for longer-term and ill for shorter-term, but is that really correct? How ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

is a dove a “she”? how to use “he” and “she” for animals?

In the song "Blowing in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, there's a verse that reads: Yes, and how many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? My question is, why he used "she" for ...
6
votes
2answers
886 views

What are the differences between “lay” and “lie”?

I'm confused about lay and lie. Please look at these examples: "Don't lie in the sun for too long." "The dog was lying dead on the floor." "She lay back against the pillows." "I told her a ...
14
votes
3answers
27k views

Why is `enjoy to [verb]` incorrect

I can say: I love to read. I hate to read. But it must be: I enjoy to read. I enjoy reading. What is enjoy so different?
7
votes
4answers
20k views

Usage of into vs in vs inside

When should 'into', 'in' and 'inside' be used? What are the differences between the three? For example, what are the differences between the following statements? Are any of them incorrect? ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Proper usage of the word since

Sometimes I hear people say something like the example below. Is it correct to use the word since in this manner? Mosquitoes are surviving on earth since millions of years.
5
votes
2answers
3k views

'Would' vs 'should', expressing expectation on the part of the speaker

Page 111 (77, Should expressing probability), Oxford Learner's Grammar - Grammar Finder: We can also use should to say that something is probable, either in the present or the future. ...
5
votes
4answers
32k views

Difference between be and become

I am not good at English. And I used to say that I want to become a software developer. But Some people are using that I want to be a [something]. Which one is correct? And at what situations we ...
7
votes
2answers
9k views

“Many a year” vs. “many years”

so soon they were all seated at Beorn's table, and half had not seen such a gathering for many a year. Why is many a year used? Should not many years be used? What is the difference between many a ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

“Assume you are given …” or “Assume that you are given …”?

I have often read people using sentences like... Assume you are given a ball. in place of Assume that you are given a ball. While both sound correct while speaking, the first sentence does ...
0
votes
2answers
99 views

How does “would” work in a sentence: The best choice would be…?

In the sentence "the best choice would be...", what does "would" mean in the following sentence? Questioner: Is this sentence correct? 'Finished eating, we went to the zoo'. Answer: I'm ...
12
votes
1answer
68k views

Could you clarify when to use “Though” at the end of a sentence?

Ok, English textbooks mostly teach the structure "Although / though", for example, Although my wife and I are so busy,we spend time together every weekend. Anne was fond of Tim, though he ...
13
votes
2answers
20k views

On the singular vs plural aspects of “who”

In a question like this one, for example, Who have/has come? Is the word "who" singular or plural? Or is it both plural and singular? I have heard it’s plural. Please correct me if I am wrong.
5
votes
3answers
120k views

“So am I” or “So do I”?

What would be the correct way to reply to a statement such as: "I belong to this group" Would it be "So do I" or "So am I"?
6
votes
5answers
696 views

The meaning of 'where' in “Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically”

This is a paragraph generally describing the characteristics of an ISTJ person: As an ISTJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in via your five senses in a ...
1
vote
5answers
8k views

What is difference between people and peoples?

Would anyone like to comprehensively explain? I am not sure peoples word exist or not. Kindly request to you all please explain about this. Thanks.
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Correct usage of will and would

Consider the following sentence It will/would rain tomorrow. I understand "would" usually means something that is really improbable. So "it would happen" means it might happen but it is very ...
19
votes
6answers
7k views

How many items are actually “a few items”?

When we use a few, how many items are usually indicated? My intuition tells me it's something between 3 and 9, but what is the most common range for a few?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Present/past perfect when the object is a dead person

I remember (vaguely) reading somewhere that it is wrong to use the present perfect when the subject of a sentence is someone who is long dead: *Einstein has visited the Philippines. My question is,...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

A comparison between Grade, Mark, Score and Point

Let's suppose a teacher wants to punish a student and wants to decrease his / her achieved points on a test paper; he would say something to the student; I would like to know which one of the ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

What is the difference of “use”, “utilize” and “employ”

The situation is I'm writing a paper, and I want to use different words to express the meaning of "adopt" a method or approach. All the three words "use", "utilize" and "employ" have the meaning of ...
0
votes
2answers
86 views

How often is the expression “get on well” used? Is there any difference with “get along”?

I have been talking with a person from US and when I said something like this: They do not get on well with others She didn´t understand me at first, but later she said that was a funny sentence ...
0
votes
2answers
44 views

The word that always gets me mixed up : JUST

I had just arrived at the hotel, checked in and gotten into my room. Just as I was about to unpack, I noticed that one of my bags was missing. At first I thought I had left it back at the airport, but ...
11
votes
1answer
169k views

“Can you please” vs. “Could you please” [duplicate]

I heard using 'could' is for politeness. When I request something, should I say "Can you please" or "Could you please"? Does the latter sound over-polite and pretentious?
6
votes
3answers
434 views

What is the difference between “say” and “tell”?

I really get confused when to use say and when to use tell. Which is appropriate in the following: What did he tell? / What did he say? What are you saying? / What are you telling?
9
votes
3answers
764 views

Meaning and usage of ain't

Sometimes I encounter ain't, but I really don't know how to translate it properly. What does ain't stand for? If I really wanted to use it, in which contexts would you say it's acceptable using it?
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Using the adjectives 'very' and 'own' for our (own!) body organs

The adjectives 'very' and 'own' mean precisely as stated or being exactly the same and not any other. I understand a subtle difference between my bike and my own bike in below mentioned instance - ...
6
votes
2answers
67k views

Family do or does?

What should I use My family do not give me permission to be outside after 10pm. or My family does not give me permission to be outside after 10pm. Now as I typed in MS-word it says does is ...
1
vote
3answers
6k views

Are there other names for students according to their year - except of “sophomore”?

Today, I've heard my lecturer who turned to us by the word: "sophomores". This the is the first time that I was exposed to this word in the meaning of "student of 2nd year". My question if there are ...
11
votes
4answers
10k views

Is there a word in English meaning “see something incorrectly”?

For example, I saw someone just now. I thought he was Jack, but turned out he was not. Or, I saw something and recognized it as something else incorrectly. Is there a word for such situations? I ...
7
votes
2answers
342 views

''in the year 1867'' vs. "in 1867''

He was born in the year 1867. He was born in 1867. Are there differences between “in the year 1867” and “in 1867”? Please explain it to me.
6
votes
6answers
142k views

What is the difference between a company, organisation, industry, firm, corporation and business?

A company is any form of business whether it is small or large. Generally the term "company" indicates a particular kind of business dealing in a specific product. An organisation is the ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

Ain't and negatives

I am puzzled with the use of ain't. I know its meaning, and also know it is pretty informal. But I see it used in several ways, some I think of as conflicting. See the following examples I ain't ...
2
votes
5answers
5k views

Why “would” instead of “will” in this sentence?

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iranˈs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. (Source) what does would imply ...
1
vote
2answers
24k views

“Both” vs “both of them”

What is the correct form in the following sentences, "both" and "both of them"? a) "Both of them are unique." b) "Both are unique." If "both" by itself already contains "both of them", so I ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Can/could vs. may/might (expressing typical occurrences)

The following parts are taken from PEU:1 122.2 common or typical We often use can to say what is common or typical. Scotland can be very warm in September. Ann can really ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

The usage of the word pretty is “pretty” confusing

I am aware that there are plenty of threads on intensifiers(very, rather, pretty, quite, fairly, etc.), both on this site and on the web, because of their ambiguity in terms of meaning. What I have ...
3
votes
1answer
582 views

What is the meaning, usage and formality of the greeting “What's up”?

"What does it really mean when one asks - what’s up?" What should be my reply? What I am busy with or upto? I am assuming its informal usage. Also I doubt if one should use it in formal meetings. ...
2
votes
1answer
341 views

Difference between the use of “a” and “any” in these examples?

I didn't have an idea. I did not have any idea. I am much more familiar with the second one. The first one sounds a bit odd to me, but sounds fine if I say: I did not have even an idea. But, ...
1
vote
1answer
11k views

Last two days/ In the last two days / For the last two days [duplicate]

can anybody explain me the difference in usage of these three? For example, is it correct to ask: How many cars did you buy last two days or How many cars did you buy in the last two days? is there ...
37
votes
8answers
11k views

How to say something like “my company” without sounding like I own the company?

How do I say something like "my company," "my plane," "my bus", etc. without making it sound like I own the company/plane/bus/etc? "Our company" makes it seem like both me and the person/people I'm ...
18
votes
5answers
115k views

“Furthermore” versus “moreover”

Is there any difference in meaning between furthermore, and moreover? In other words, can I easily replace these words with one another in any sentence, or should I do it carefully?
17
votes
6answers
135k views

How do I use “also” in a sentence?

Which of the following sentences are grammatically correct in written text? You also are allowed to see your son. You are also allowed to see your son. Also, you are allowed to see your son. ...
41
votes
6answers
29k views

'Ask away' - what does 'away' mean?

“Sir,” said Harry, reminding himself irresistibly of Voldemort, “I wanted to ask you something.” “Ask away, then, my dear boy, ask away. . . .” In this sentence, I don't know what does 'away' ...
27
votes
4answers
92k views

Differences between “mandatory” and “compulsory”

What is the difference between mandatory and compulsory? Are they synonyms? Can they be used interchangeably especially with regard to something you must do? Writing the essay is a mandatory ...